JERUSALEM – Forty Jewish settler families said Saturday they expect to move out of their Gaza Strip homes next month, becoming the first to announce definite plans to leave ahead of the Israeli withdrawal from the coastal area.
The families from northern Gaza make up only a small fraction of the 1,600 families slated for evacuation this summer.
But Saturday’s announcement was the latest sign that Jewish settlers are coming to terms with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to evacuate the Gaza Strip and four West Bank settlements.
At least 500 families already have reached agreement with the government on compensation and relocation, but none has officially announced a moving date.
Many Jewish settlers have vowed to resist the evacuation to the end.
Meanwhile, dozens have holed up in a Gaza Strip hotel, stocking up on food and water with the expectation of a fierce battle – which they say will be nonviolent – with Israeli security forces who come to remove them.